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Sajjan gets anticipatory bail, Sikh victims cry foul

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was Friday given anticipatory bail along with six others by the Delhi High Court in two cases related to his alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying detaining them after a lapse of 25 years was not justifiable. Victims of the violence called it a major setback.

While granting bail, Justice A.K. Pathak said, ‘I do not find force in the contention that in case petitioners are at large on bail, it will hamper fair trial and witnesses may not depose against the petitioners due to fear and threat.

‘Admittedly, all along for the last 25 years petitioners have remained at large as they were not in custody.’

The court granted anticipatory bail to Sajjan Kumar and the six others on a personal bond of Rs.50,000 each.

‘It would not be justifiable to detain petitioners in custody after a lapse of 25 years of incident,’ the court said in a 25-page order.

‘New witnesses, who have now surfaced during the investigation, after lapse of more than 25 years cannot be believed. The petitioner all along cooperated in the investigation conducted by CBI during the last five years,’ the court observed.

Two non-bailable arrest warrants issued against Sajjan Kumar by a city court Feb 17 and Feb 23 will now stand cancelled. The anticipatory bail granted to Sajjan Kumar and the others is not subject to any period limitation and can be later treated as a regular bail.

The former MP has been missing since the arrest warrants Feb 17.

Terming this as a major setback to the fight for the justice, senior advocate H.S.Phoolka said, ‘This is a very unfortunate and sad moment for us. We will move the Supreme Court against the order and our fight will continue for justice.’

Babu Singh Dukhiya, president of 1984 Riots Victims’ Society in Tilak Nagar, told IANS: ‘Today is the repeat of the torture of the 1984 riots. Twenty five years have passed and two generations have ended waiting for justice, probably another generation will end before anything happens.’

‘It is just like a game of cat and mouse. The accused will finally die while leading a nice life but nothing will happen to them. Sajjan has not been arrested even once, is he above the law? If even the apex court does not help us now, then we should better close the cases. It will be meaningless for us to live in the country,’ he added.

But the court said: ‘For the past five years during investigations of the said cases, the CBI did not deem it fit to arrest any of the petitioners. In spite of petitioners being at large, witnesses came forward and made statements before the CBI.

‘There is no specific allegation against the petitioners of having threatened or influenced any of the witnesses, so as to refrain any of them from making statements against them,’ the court said stating a delay of 25 years undoubtedly tilts the balance in favour of the petitioners, at least for the purpose of granting anticipatory bail.

‘Indeed, it is true, that the offence with which petitioners have been charged by the CBI is of a grave nature and ordinarily in such cases courts would be slow in admitting the accused on anticipatory bail, in the face of statements of eye witnesses,’ the court further observed.

The CBI had filed a chargesheet against Sajjan Kumar and the others in two cases for allegedly instigating mobs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984. Over 3,000 Sikhs across Delhi were killed in the communal frenzy in the days following the assassination.

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